Chinese Company Builds 57-Story Skyscraper in 19 Days

Image via BSB

“Three floors in a day is China’s new normal,” says a representative for this 57-floor that was built in just 19 days. Known as the “Mini Sky City” tower in Changsha, the 180,000-square-meter mixed-use building was built in record speed with , “LEGO-like” blocks. The process also claimed to have required less materials and significantly reduced the amount of air pollution commonly caused by dusty construction sites.

A time-lapse of the construction process, after the break.

Your Home by Mail: The Rise and Fall of Catalogue Housing

Gordon-Van tine’s ready-cut homes (1918). Image Courtesy of Openlibrary.org

Housing is one of the most persistent challenges faced by the construction industry, and over the course of decades certain trends rise and fall, as entrepreneurial housing providers carve out new niches to provide for expanding populations and changing demographics. Originally published by BuzzBuzzHome as “The Rise and Fall of The Mail-Order House,” this article explores the craze of so-called “catalogue homes” – flat-packed houses that were delivered by mail – which became popular in North America in the first decades of the 20th century.

The testimonials make it sound effortless: building your own house is no sweat.

In the front pages of a 1921 Sears Roebuck catalogue for mail-order homes, a resident of Traverse City, Michigan identified only by the pseudonym “I Did Not Hire Any Help” wrote to the company: “I am very well pleased with my Already Cut House bought off you. All the material went together nicely. In fact, I wish I had another house to put up this summer. I really enjoyed working on such a building, and I do not follow the carpenter trade either.” It’s estimated that more than 100,000 mail-order homes were built in the United States between 1908 and 1940. It was the IKEA of housing, but instead of spending an afternoon putting together a bookshelf, buyers would take on the formidable task of building a house. Or, more commonly, get a contractor to do it. Homebuyers would pick a design of their choice out of a mail-order catalogue and the – from the lumber frame boards to the paint to the nails and screws – would be shipped out to the closest railway station for pickup and construction.

Arup and GXN Innovation’s Biocomposite Facade Wins JEC Innovation Award

© lichtzeit.com

Arup and GXN Innovation have been awarded with the JEC Innovation Award 2015 in the construction category for their development of the world’s first self-supporting biocomposite facade panel. Developed as part of the €7.7 million EU-funded BioBuild program, the design reduces the embodied energy of facade systems by 50% compared to traditional systems with no extra cost in construction.

The 4-by-2.3 meter panel is made from flax fabric and bio-derived resin. Intended primarily for commercial offices, the glazing unit features a parametrically-derived faceted design, and comes prefabricated ready for installation. The panel is also designed to be easy to disassemble, making it simple to recycle at the end of its life.

Tel Aviv Museum Of Art Examines The International Circulation Of Prefab Concrete Panels

© Elad Sarig

Between 1945 and 1981 around 170 million () residential units were constructed worldwide. Now, as part of a study undertaken by Pedro Alonso and Hugo Palmarola of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile between 2012 and 2014, an exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art features 28 large concrete panel systems from between 1931 and 1981. In so doing, it explores a transnational circulation of these objects of construction, ”weaving them into a historical collage of ambitions and short-lived enthusiasm for utopian dreams.”

This show, curated by Meira Yagid-Haimovici, is an attempt to reveal “how architecture and urbanism was charged with historical, social, and political narratives, and how the modernist vision promoted the fusion of aesthetics and politics.” The models, which are being exhibited as part of the Production Routes exhibition, seek to highlight the richness embodied in ‘generic’ architecture through the lens of prefab construction methods.

“A Kit of Parts”: Mobile Classrooms by Studio Jantzen

Courtesy of

In partnership with VS Furniture,  Los Angeles-based Studio Jantzen have released images and concept material of their reconceptualization of the mobile classroom.

“A Kit of Parts” addresses what Studio Jantzen identifies as the four main shortcomings of mobile classrooms currently on the market: flexibility, , cost effectiveness, and creative construction. Read more about the project and view selected images after the break.

Design Your Own Home With MUJI’s Prefab Vertical House

Courtesy of MUJI

Japanese design brand MUJI has taken a bold step into architectural territory. A few years after a collaboration with Kengo Kuma to design two houses, the company has come forth with a Vertical House in Tokyo. Streamlined and efficient, the home accommodates all the demands of residential living within a small plot of land.

Interior images and more information, after the break.

David Rockwell’s Luxurious Pre-Fab Homes

Courtesy of Rockwell Group

Two weeks ago, David Rockwell took a step away from his usual work of interior and set design to present his foray into the game – an adaptable 2,400 square-foot house called “Pinwheel.” His design aims to challenge two assumptions about prefabrication: one, affordability and luxury are mutually exclusive and two, pre-fab’s limited flexibility makes a cookie-cutter result inevitable. Rockwell says the project, a collaboration between himself and Fred Carl, founder of modular venture C3 Design, was inspired by his childhood in Mexico, where “outdoor space was part of the lifestyle.” Check out the plan and more designs after the break.

Disaster Relief Housing For The Next “Superstorm”

Exterior Of The Prefabricated Relief Housing Units. Image Courtesy of GOTHAMIST / JAKE DOBKIN

With hurricanes Sandy and Katrina etched into recent memory, the need for post-disaster relief housing is now. New York City and Garrison Architects have developed a modular, prefabricated housing system to relieve displaced citizens during the next “superstorm.” At only 40′ by 100′ long, they can squeeze into the city’s smallest corners – all while having kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and storage spaces. The prototype is on display in Brooklyn – but you can see the entire design at the A/N Blog.

Why It’s Time to Give Up on Prefab

Destruction of Pruit-Igoe. Image Courtesy of US Department of Housing and Urban Development

This article by Chris Knapp, the Director of Built-Environment Practiceoriginally appeared on Australian Design Review as “The End Of Prefabrication”. Knapp calls for the end of prefabrication as a driver for design, pointing out its century-long failure to live up to its promise, as well as newer technology’s ability to “mass produce difference”.

Prefabrication – there is not another word in the current lexicon of architecture that more erroneously asserts positive change. For more than a century now, this industrial strategy of production applied to building has yielded both an unending source of optimism for architecture, and equally, a countless series of disappointments. This is a call for the end of prefabrication.

Read on after the break

Historic New York City House Seeks Permanent Home

Courtesy of Flickr User jenosale

After being relegated to storage facilities for much of its lifetime, proposals to relocate the Aluminaire House seem to be picking up steam. The project, which was the first all-metal house in the , originally stood as a symbol for architectural modernism in a rapidly urbanizing .

AD Classics: Ramot Polin / Zvi Hecker

Images from the : The Object of Zionism, at the SAM (Swiss Architecture Museum, Basel, 2011). Curators: Zvi Efrat and Hubertus Adam

The Ramot Polin neighborhood is a housing project designed by the Polish-born Israeli architect , commissioned by the Israeli government in the euphoric aftermath of the Six Day War. The project, which resembles a beehive, is an avant-garde architectural experiment on morphology as well as construction. Since being constructed in the late 1970s, the structure has undergone extensive alteration by its tenants, provoking a debate regarding the capacity of expressive architecture to account for authentic human needs.

Construction Begins on NYC’s First Prefab Steel and Concrete Residential Development

©

Prefabrication has long been heralded as a possible way to infill New York’s vacant sites; however, it has only recently become a solid practical solution rather than an experimental concept. Riding the crest of the wave of new prefabricated is GLUCK+ (formerly Peter Gluck & Partners), in collaboration with developers Jeffrey Brown and Kimberly Frank. Together they have begun construction on one of New York’s first prefabricated steel and concrete residential buildings.

Read more about this and New York’s recent wave of prefabricated buildings after the break…

Event: Pratt Explores the Importance of Cold War Era Pre-Fabricated Building Systems

Housing Prototype Systems; Courtesy of Pedro Alonso

Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture will present “COLD war COOL digital,” an exhibition of 20 scaled prototypes of modernist, pre-fabricated, and globally-distributed Cold War era housing systems that were created using contemporary 3D printing technologies (opening reception 2/18 at 6:15, details below). The exhibition will investigate architectural and its global influence and will connect with contemporary prototype pre-fabrication methods and digital research in housing and design. A symposium that explores the technical, aesthetic, and political aspects of prototyping and pre-construction in architecture will be held tonight in conjunction with the exhibition.

Continue reading for more details…

The Downfalls of Prefab Design

Sky City is planned to be the world’s tallest , constructed entirely through .

Prefabricated design has come to be known as a fast, green, and cost-efficient way to create buildings. Although this technique has most prominently been used with small residential structures, it’s now taken a turn towards greater, larger projects. With prefabricated towers and skyscrapers now in the works (and, in some cases, going up in as little as six days), pre-fab begs the question: is it really safe? Does quick production time lead to instability, making prefabricated buildings more likely to collapse?

Read more after the break.

VIDEO: Dwell Presents Jens Risom’s Island Home

If you’re at all immersed in the world, you already know the name of Danish-American furniture designer Jens Risom. And, if you know Jens Risom, you most certainly know the mid-century, house he designed and built on an isolated island 13 miles off the coast of New England.

If you don’t know it – now’s the time to get acquainted. The gorgeous summer home – which famously graced the pages of LIFE Magazine in 1968, has recently been featured by Dwell in a video.

The house, which has stood on Block Island for 45 years with relatively little renovation, despite the island’s notoriously powerful gales of wind, defies the stereotype that pre-fabricated buildings can’t be built to last (or beautifully designed).  Indeed, Risom only attempted the venture because of the “personal freedom” that pre-fabrication afforded him. As he explains: “Architecture, to me, is the most beautiful of the arts. But I watched my father [an architect] struggle with the challenges, what was to me an enormous drawback: The architect did not fully drive the end product. I always knew that I wanted to design, but only [if I could] create products over which I had total control.”

More on this extraordinary home and its designer, after the break…

World’s Tallest Skyscraper Back On Track To Be Built in 90 Days

Courtesy of Broad Group

Despite reports that construction firm Broad Sustainable Building (BSB), a subsidiary of Broad Group, could not complete its 220-story Sky City tower in 90 days, the company’s senior VP Juliet Jiang has announced that the skyscraper “will go on as planned with the completion of five storeys a day.”

Thus, rather than in seven months, the world’s tallest tower (838 m; 2,750 ft) will be finished in three – topping out at the end of March 2013.

As we’ve discussed before here on ArchDaily, the tower could truly be revolutionary in China; Broad Group’s 95% modular technology, which is responsible for the incredible rate of construction, is also radically environmentally-friendly, earthquake-safe, and cost-effective. In fact, Sky City, designed by engineers who worked on the Burj Khalifa, will cost a tenth of that famous skyscraper (only $1,500 per square meter) – and take a twentieth of the time to build.

More info on the world’s tallest tower, after the break…

Beyond the “Made In China” Mentality: Why China’s Innovation Revolution Must Embrace Pre-Fab Architecture

Chinese construction company Broad Group’s rendering for , soon to be the world’s tallest skyscraper. (© Image: Broad Group via Gizmag)

When Wired correspondent Lauren Hilgers arrived to Broad Town, the headquarters of the Broad Sustainability Group in Changsha, China, she soon realized that this was not your typical workplace environment. At Broad Town, employees must be able to run 7.5 miles over the course of 2 days; recite company “policy” – covering everything from how to save energy to how to brush your teeth – at a moment’s notice; and refer to their boss as “my chairman.”

It may sound strict, but the workers at Broad are on a higher mission. The CEO and founder of the company, Zhang Yue, a.k.a the chairman, doesn’t just consider himself the head of a construction company, but of a “structural revolution.”

In a few years, Zhang has turned the world of skyscraper on its head, pushing the technical and structural capabilities of pre-fabrication to its utmost (perhaps you’ve heard of the 30-story hotel he built in just 15 days). Not only do Broad’s techniques save time and money, they represent a potentially game-changing opportunity for China to maintain its unfathomable rate of growth in a way that’s both safe and sustainable.

But where does innovation enter in this revolution? China, for years an intellectual playground for Western architects, has become increasingly concerned with nurturing its own latent intellectual capital. However, if Broad’s paradigm takes hold (which, pragmatically-speaking, it should), what will that mean for architectural innovation? In a world of pre-fab structures, can architecture exist?

Update: SLEEPBOX / Arch Group

© Arch Group

Back in late 2009 Arch Group shared with us their proposal for an urban relaxation pod – SLEEPBOX. Their concept has been realized, with production of the 2.5×1.6m x 2.5-3m high unit high moving ahead.